Mykonos is famed for its party image yet there is so much more to discover here. This is where Shirley Valentine was filmed as well as the last few scenes from the Bourne Identity.
Mykonos is often called the 'White Island'; nowhere is this more evident than Mykonos Town's brilliant-white houses and deep blue shutters. Mykonos Town is renowned for its vibrant atmosphere with the revelry often lasting long into the night!
Presiding over the west of the town are four windmills, which once provided grain for the island, now they are extremely popular with photographers, along with the area of the town called Venetia (Venice), so called because its houses hug the water. It is a colourful, romantic area, especially when the wind whips up causing waves to crash against the taverna walls – sitting al fresco at times like this does become a perilous experience!
This area has featured in several films, the most notable of which is the scene at the end of the Bourne Identity. Little Venice is frequented by celebrities and by the most famous resident of the island, a pelican, the island’s mascot. Legend has it that around 40 years ago a local fisherman found a wounded pelican and nursed it back to health. The pelican refused to leave the island and made Mykonos his home. When it passed away the island went into mourning and Jackie Onassis donated another pelican to the island called Irene, a zoo in Germany donated another, Petros, and there is now a third after history repeated itself and an injured bird was found a few years back on the island. He was named Nikolas!
Mykonos Town has a great choice of eateries, from the slightly more pricey at Venetia to the more established family tavernas tucked away in the back streets. Its shops sell exquisite clothes, lace, folk art and jewellery as well as the more traditional Mykonian souvenirs: hand made leather sandals & almond cakes.
Twilight falls, lights on the cruise ships twinkle in the bay and the streets of Mykonos Town become busier as people choose a restaurant and plan their evening. Mykonos Town is famed the world over for its nightlife and it doesn’t disappoint. Streets become thronged with locals and visitors and the revelry continues well into the night. Many clubs are very chic (and quite pricey) whilst others cater for a younger crowd; many clubs host international DJs and as if that weren't enough, there are also beach parties and full moon parties!
For those who prefer a quieter resort, Ornos lies only a short distance from Mykonos Town (5 minutes by local bus). This holiday resort offers a good choice of eateries, bars, a supermarket and an excellent bakery. The beach here is sandy, gently shelving so is perfect for families; it also offers watersports in high season for grown-ups.
Platis Gialos' beach was awarded a Blue Flag some years ago and is well-equipped with sunbeds, umbrellas & watersports. It has a shallow shoreline too so it's also excellent for families. There is a good choice of places to stay here as well as tavernas and bars. Water taxis leave from here to go to the two most famous beaches on the island - Paradise and Super Paradise.
Mykonos is much more than a party island and a visit to Ano Mera is recommended. It's close to Mykonos Town, yet worlds apart. The focal point is a little square surrounded by many family-run tavernas (we recommend a meal here) and a few coffee shops. Also of interest is the Monastery of Tourliani, patron saint of Mykonos, built in the 16th century. It's a small but intensely spiritual place and is open mornings and evenings. There are over 500 churches on Mykonos -some are so small that you would be pushed to squeeze half a dozen people inside!
The most photographed church is Paraportiani, dating from the 15th century. It stands by the main harbour in Mykonos Town and is actually a complex of five churches; four on the ground level and one on the roof with an exterior stone staircase. It gets its name from the small gate at the ‘side door’ of the mediaeval stone walls encircling the area.
Look out also for the dovecotes – nearly all farmhouses have them. There are several hundred on the island and are now mainly used for decorative purposes.
Mykonos is a paradise for sun worshippers. From the aptly named Paradise and Super Paradise beaches on the south coast to the quieter Kalafatis, Anna and Kalo Livadi beaches on the south east there is a wide choice. Kalo Livadi is our favourite and is easily reached by car, boat or bus (plus a walk from the top of the road). It isn't a ‘party beach’ like Paradise and is good for families.
Hotels to visit
An oasis of serenity a stone's throw from Mykonos' glamorous nightlife.
Ideally located next to the old port of Mykonos, the Harmony is a typical example of local folk architecture with its whitewashed cube-like houses.
The luxurious Petasos Beach stands on a private peninsula offering stunning views of the Aegean.
A few steps away from the sun-kissed Platis Gialos Beach and only a short bus ride to Mykonos Town lies the beachfront Petinos Hotel.
G Maheswaran, UK, Sept 2016
D Marchese, UK, September 2014